Sep 27 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
VISITS to Brent’s libraries have dropped by more than 130,000 since six branches were closed in October last year.
Brent Council’s figures suggest there has been in increase in some library visits and item issues, but those opposed to the cuts say this does not tell the full story.
Even though there has been a slow historic decline in the public’s use of the service, the drop after the authority shut half its branches is notably steeper – from 701,122 between April and August 2011 to 565,179 for the same period this year.
Philip Bromberg, 52, of Grendon Gardens, Wembley, the chairman of the Preston Library campaign, said: “It clearly shows that the library strategy is not working.
“In figures quoted in the council executive report in May, it showed that 54 per cent of users from the closed libraries had not used a different library.
“Considering that it was accepted that outgoing chief executive Gareth Daniel was the driving force behind this, the council now has a chance to rethink the policy.”
The total number of items issued – whether in person, online, by phone or via e-book downloads or the home outreach service – has similarly declined, although less so since the six libraries were closed.
There was a larger decrease between the same four-month periods in 2010 and 2011, when all 12 libraries were open, than between 2011 and 2012, by which time half of them had shut.
A Brent Council spokeswoman said: “It was always expected that a reduction overall in usage of six libraries as against 12 would occur, as it would take time to build usage based on the new library offer.
“By 2014/15, we expect Brent’s transformed six libraries to have had more visits and be lending more books than they did under the old service.”